Sometime last year, after he turned 6 years old, I took Mateo to fly with me. I felt he was responsible enough not to mess anything up, and old enough to follow instructions, while I was experienced enough in taking passengers that I didn’t feel scared about taking a youngster. Mateo had the biggest smile I ever remember him having — one of those childhood whole face smiles of wonder that give you the impression of a profound happiness.
It’s been at least a year, if not more, since that time, and I’d been thinking of taking Mateo flying. However, it’s Father’s Day and so I wanted to spend some time flying. I had a trip in mind (off to the Salton Sea), and an alternative (up to Harris Ranch), or a yet another alternative (Catalina), but literally nobody to go with me. Some friends were busy, others were still a bit scared, and generally it was just last minute. I went to the airport and continued trying to think of friends who might want to come, or places to go without them. Somehow I was not feeling happy with creating a mission for myself around training (yet again), nor did I want to fly a long distance all by myself this time. A conundrum.
I got to the airport, started preflighting for my Salton Sea flight by myself (because, damn it, I don’t need others in the plane to enjoy aviation), but I guess I just couldn’t get it out of my head that I really wanted to be sharing aviation with others. So, I called Linda and had her pitch to Mateo that we go on a flight together! He agreed, and so we made a plane.
I preflighted, and took off from Hawthorne, and landed in Santa Monica. Then parked at the observation deck, and waited for Mateo to come. Then, we both went to Santa Barbara for lunch!
It was a great flight. On the way there, we flew north remaining just a bit west of Van Nuys’ airspace, and climbed to 8,500 (slowly, since the airplane is only 160hp). The weather was great, and even though the sun was shining, it was pretty cozy at altitude. We followed the 101, flew over Camarillo and Oxnard, and looked around a lot. I let Mateo fly for a little bit (pitch and bank), which I think he enjoyed. We talked about some gauges and what my plan was — even though it took an hour, I think that I kept his interest. We landed at KSBA at 15L, parked over at Atlantic, and then walked to lunch. I think this leg of the flight went without any problems, other than me filing but not properly activating the flight plan. I remained in contact with ATC the entire way, but it is worth double-checking that you’ve got all the protection that you intend to have, always. About the only issue was that I recently bought a Kore Audio KA-1 headset for use by passengers (since the club’s headsets just suck), but the headset kept generating noise. This meant that it was harder to hear each other and ATC over the constant white noise, and was harder to tolerate over time. I need to email them to sort this out.
When we got back from lunch, Mateo was a bit more tired. We took the coastal route — cruising at 5,500ft this time, from Oxnard to Pt. Mugu to Malibu to Santa Monica, then taking the mini-route back to Hawthorne. Landed, refueled. What a nice and successful Father’s Day!